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The Hawthorns
  West Bromwich Albion v Blackburn Rovers
Premier League
Saturday April 7th 2012, 3pm
Robert Bury

(Blackburn Rovers fan)

Being the second trip I had ever made to The Hawthorns and previously enjoying the first trip a few years back I was looking forward to a tightly contested match and maybe.. just maybe 3 points to help in Rovers relegation battle. Instead of going with my mates though as done previously this trip would be with my two brothers.

The journey for me and my brothers was made by car straight down the M6, jumping on to the M5 for a short stint to Junction 1 where on exiting the motorway the ground becomes clearly signposted and then becomes visible within minutes of leaving the motorway. All in all a very easy trip from Lancashire, the only bit then was a bit of tactical parking trying to find a spot we could quickly escape from after the game. We decided to drive just past the stadium and park down a side street but there are many car parks directly around the stadium charging the usual fees of £5 etc.

Before the game we needed to firstly purchase our tickets from the away end ticket office which is just beside the away turnstiles as we had only decided to come down to the game the night before! Once we had done this we saw no point in trying to find a pub so entered the stadium for a pie and beer… or two.

The stadium itself is a mismatch of different shaped stands but which try to retain the same style and doesn’t look too shabby considering. Inside it is completely enclosed in all corners even if these corners are not filled with seating. The away end has ample room even though we stood for most of the game. An interesting look about the away end is that it seems to curve upwards rather than go straight up like most stands, this leads to a good feeling when you are stood at the back as you can better see and feel the entire atmosphere in front of you.

The beers were what you would expect at most grounds serving plastic bottles of beer and cider and the pies although tasted good but fell apart very easily, I even remember one of my brothers dropping most of his on the floor. The toilets are quite small but for our following that day were not a problem, although I could see a bit of queuing with some pushing and shoving should a bigger team with more of a following visit. The stewards are one part of the day on both occasions that has let The Hawthorns down, this may be because the Blackburn fans can sometimes get rowdy but mainly a bit of over the top stewarding. This is seen on my first visit were the stewards closed in on the Rovers supporters and (in some cases) actually pushed them out the door. I do think this kind of strict stewarding creates more problems than it solves, usually resulting in the away supporters becoming restless.

The game itself started and West Brom quickly took charge dictating the tempo of the game, we knew we would be in for a long game and this was confirmed as West Brom took the lead to go 1-0 up. This was the case for most of the first half and Rovers didn’t seem to be able to get a foothold in the game going in still 1-0 down at half time. After the break we started very brightly and things were looking up with us testing the West Brom keeper on several occasions before disaster struck and West Brom pounced on the break to nick a second. This was later followed by a third and a Rovers sending off to compact a miserable display from Rovers, all in all not the best of games and a big nail in our Premier League coffin.

We left 5 minutes early due to a pathetic Rovers display and thinking it would be best to get away before the heavy traffic hit. Even though we did this the traffic outside the stadium was still fairly busy and I know from my previous experience that it can be very slow getting back to the motorway. Once we got there though it was plain sailing all the way back home thankfully with no motorway hold ups.

Overall not the best day out due to the result but I would definitely go again should the opportunity arise. There is something more appealing to me about older mis-matched stadiums that have a real feeling of history about them rather than many of the soulless new concrete bowls being built these days.

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